Modern tea party - recipes...
I got hooked on tea parties a few years ago but I always hated the bland food generally served as the accompaniment. Among my favourite things to serve:
~ cucumber tea sandwiches - cucumber is peeled and thinly sliced, salted and pressed to absorb fluid then layered on white bread along with a mixture of light cream cheese, chopped garlic, black pepper and lemon juice.
~ roast beef tea sandwiches - thinly sliced roast beef layed over a mixture of light cream cheese, horseradish and black pepper on whole grain bread.
~ smoked salmon tea sandwiches - sliced smoked salmon layered over a mixture of light cream cheese, minced red onion, and chopped capers on pumpernickle bread.
~ scones served with a apple butter, jam and lemon curd. Tips for scones: make with heavy cream for a moist texture, shape like a cinnamon roll to make it easier for guests to eat.
~ bite size meringues - tiny, flavoured (vanilla, lemon, maple, almond) meringues stacked in candy dishes.
~ almond lace cookies - if you feel a need to be fancy, shape them like cornets, dip the point in chocolate and fill with fresh whipped cream and berries.
~ chocolate chip cookies - believe it or not, always a huge hit; depending on the tea I'm serving, I'll add dried berries (cranberries, blueberries, etc.) and chopped almonds.
I try to keep food as simple as possible in terms of prepping and cooking so I can be out in the parlour with my guests rather than in the kitchen trying to knock their socks off.
For beverages, I stick to tea and ice water. I'll keep a pitcher of ice water on the serving table with some glasses. For teas I'll offer one flavoured tea (like chocolate-vanilla-mint or french caramel creme brulee), one earl grey (for people who aren't adventurous) and a green tea. With the green tea, you might want to offer a variety of honeys.
A nice take home gift is the teapot that they used for their tea. You can buy individual teapots online for rather cheap. Either buy all of the same color or different colors (make sure you remember which guest had which colour). If you can sneak the teapots away during the dessert, get someone to wash them up real quick, stock them with whichever tea they were drinking and tie on nametags (pre-made of course). Have them ready at the door for when they leave.
Alternately, buy mix and match china teacups and allow the guests to take them home with them. This can get a bit expensive.
A word about set-up: I find it handy to have a serving table set up along one wall of the room because the eating tables can get quite full with teapots, teacups, silverware and plates. I'll pass a tray of food through the room, allowing the guests to serve themselves from the tray then I'll place the tray on the serving table so if the guests want more, they can serve themselves (rather than having to ask or coming into the kitchen).
I went to a baby shower tea party, but I'm planning one for the spring prior to Mother's Day for a group I belong to. I've heard of some people having a Holiday Tea Party...some include bring their daughters (as young as 5 or 6). I'd think it might be a fun alternative to a "girls night out" (minus the booze).
my favorite tea party would consist of ripe brie on toasted raisin/walnut pumpernickel...fresh figs, mango slices, and tart, crisp apples...a hot pot of chai, steamed milk and a box of belgian pralines...if the tea party is for one, add a great book...if for two or more, add some great movies on dvd and put another log on the fire...enjoy
I went to a tea party where one of the guests brought tapenade sandwiches made with tapenade of course on a rosemary sourdough bread and sandwiches made with brie and cornichons served on sliced baguettes. How about deconstructured sandwiches or a tea sandwich 'bar' where the breads (cut to size)and fillings are set out buffet style and people can compose their own sandwiches?
I recently went to a great tea party. Each guest was asked to select a cup from a selection of the "three part tea cups" (sold by World Market). They have the difuser built right in. Then there were 5 loose teas to chose from, each with a description of the tea. You were to place 1/2 tsp. of the desired tea in your cup. (I agree with the comments I read somewhere else that one should purchase the best tea they can afford...) They had beautiful silver boilers filled with piping hot water. The best part...after your tea steeped there were waterproof trays strategically placed all around the house to sit your difuser on. As if by magic, the hostess' 'staff' (consisting of family & friends) whisked away the difuser and cleaned it out. When you were ready for round two, voila, your difuser was ready for youright where you had left it!! At the end of the party the hostess had little bags to take our new tea cups home in along with a thank you for coming. There was also lots of great food, but it was the tea tasting and cups that were so much fun. There were also little decorated sugar cubes, honey, and milk for the tea. It was a grand time!
- a quick and easy update on some sandwiches is to add curry to it (curried egg salad, curried tuna, etc.), it's a little exotic but also fairly familiar, so should be suitable for both adventurous and playing-it-safe palates.
- Serve some sandwiches open-faced (particularly ones with more colorful "fillings" like smoked salmon) to make the plate look more visually appealing.
- one of the classiest teas I've had finished off the event with a goblet of berries topped with cream (and splashed with liqueur) ~ simple to make but very elegant
- buy individual-sized cakes from a fancy bakery and chop it up for great bite-sized petit-fours.
- for teas, my current favorite is les palais des thes (from France) -- an amazing collection! and they have samplers boxes filled with about 15 vials of different kinds of teas for you try out. Not sure if you live close to one of their stores but I believe they have an online shop too.
I agree with above posting that you should serve some Japanese or Chinese teas, too. Consider Genmaicha -- a Japanese green tea made with puffed, toasted rice -- rich taste. Tease the palate with a smoked tea like Russian Caravan or Lapsang Souchong (these also taste good with milk and sugar).
If you do go with tea sandwiches (I think you can), green tea pairs very well with chestnut. Make small sandwiches on wheat bread spread with a layer of creme fraiche and a layer of sweetened chestnut puree. Or a layer of butter, thinly-sliced cucumber, and lemon thyme. Rye bread with a thick layer of butter and chopped fresh dill.
As for sweets, a cake made with ground almonds tastes very good with black tea. Or shortbread brushed on one side with melted chocolate.
It is time for your best china and silver to come out of storage and get the pretty linen napkins that never get used out too. Plan on 2 types of tea, maybe coffee for the non-tea drinkers, some sherry? Tea sandwiches of various types, some cake or petite fours www.divinedelights.com has beautiful ones, scones and clotted cream and strawberry jam
If you're going for a "modern" tea party, I would suggest, in addition to the the traditional English tea and fare-- to include Japanese Matcha and Chinese Oolong teas served with asian pastries. One of my absolute favorite recipes (always a winner) is for "Kasutera Cake" which is the Japanese version of a Castillian cake, extremely light and spongy (in texture, not in calories-- the recipe calls for 8 egg yolks!). If you make it, I would serve it with fresh, lightly sweetened whipped cream.
Another great thing to serve with Asian teas are Omusubi or Onigiri.. rice balls (actually more like, triangles) filled with various goodies then wrapped with nori. These can look really cute if you make mini ones (like 2" high or so), mix various ingredients in with the rice to make them look prettier, and you can even buy colored soy sheets to wrap them with if you don't want to use nori. They will impart a sweeter taste to them.
If you're going for a more European tea party, and want it to be modern and chic, I would stay away from the typical tea sandwiches and make something with a more gourmet flair. Like make mini black currant scones (super easy to make), cut them in half and fill melon or make a simple mash of fresh grapes and spread it on the sandwich like mayo and add prosciutto.
I like grapevine's curried chicken salad idea, but I would serve it on mini brioche perhaps and maybe... add some raisins in with the chicken salad.
You could really wow your guests with duck and orange marmalade and brie rolled into a wrap and cut into little pinwheels topped with dried cranberries or a nice spicy cranberry/ginger chutney.
I am not to sure this would be considered chic, but I have had many a tea party in the past and one of my favorites is to purchase Honey Baked Ham Salad, then make tea sandwichs on light whole wheat bread. Pick a shape, like triangles, cut the crust off of the bread, fill it and then take a dab of mayo to ice the edge of the sandwich with, then roll the sandwich through finely minced parsley.
Other variations that I use are curried chicken salad on white bread, and cream cheese on a nut bread with chives around the edge.
You might want to look at a few cookbooks for ideas.I have a book from the 1920s called How to Entertain at Home,which was from Modern Priscilla magazine which has decoration ideas,menu suggestions,etc.for teas,bridge luncheons,Fourth of July parties,even church fundraisers.Could take a look through there for ideas for you when i get a chance.
It's fall,so you might get some mum plants at Walmart or Home Depot,small ones that is,and put a couple on the table.
You could cover the table with a ivory or pale tan colored
cloth or paper table cover,with the orange and yellow mums in the center.And have leaf shaped place cards if desired.
To send home with guests,you could make leaf shaped cookies
wrapped in plastic wrap and tied with a red ribbon.
Maybe get some leaf decorated paper plates and napkins for easy clean up.This is what i might do.
You could have chicken salad sandwiches .Chicken with celery,chopped almonds and a hint of curry.Take bread and spread it with Dijon mustard.then add a slice of montery jack cheese or pepper cheese,add a piece of already cooked bacon ,roll up and them broil for a few minutes.
take thin sliced roast beef and roll it around some dill pickles and then slice and add a tooth pick to it for ease in pickup. Tuna mixed with one of the new Kraft flavoured mayonnaise perhasp. sliced chicken with flavoured mayonnaise on cibatta bread.
Maybe some sort of fruit salad.Perhasp a cheesecake of some kind or other cake.Home made or bakery cookies.
How many people are you planning on?
Lipton has some good flavoured ice tea mixes.
The mango is alright,but tasted better when I added a few slices of oranges to it.
You could make punch with ginger ale and sherbert.
Just a few thoughts.